Governments all over the world are collecting relief funds amidst the COVID-19 crisis, and it is frustrating when the funders are not able to know if the funds are being used for the meant purpose.
Ken Abante, a policy researcher at Ateneo De Manila University has recently taken a step to erase the frustration when he found out that personal protective equipment wasn’t reaching the medical front-liners as quickly as needed.
His research work is named The Budget Process as Watering a Garden: #COVID19PH Citizens’ Budget Tracker Working Paper as of 6 April 2020, which is available on the internet and you can get it by clicking here.
Since he used to be the chief of staff for the strategy, economics, and results group of the Department of Finance—which makes him equipped for projects that involve policy intervention analysis and sleuthing where the money goes. He collected friends and volunteers to his side and created a citizen budget tracker for COVID-19.
It tracks outputs which include PPE kits, food, subsidies, expenditures, all the stuff that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Center (DROMIC) are doing.
The tracker even explains the legalese behind the President’s emergency powers. The tracker even explains words for layman people with a tab that helps define what certain terms like “appropriation” and “disbursement” mean.
Their first point of source of information was the President’s report which detailed all the accomplishments of the national government for the week, explained Jahleel An Burao, who is part of the financial reporting team, and has a background in microfinance.
The information was further cross-referenced with other Government reports, DROMIC data, official data, and dashboards of other implementing agencies.
The point behind creating the budget tracker is to point out the areas which the government might be neglecting.
But even with access to the above-mentioned information, Abante is still trying to find and access more pieces of relevant data, such as local government cash positions. There also seems to be a gap in the reports regarding how much of the budget is going into funding the police enforcing the quarantine. So the team is reaching out to as many people as they can, from senators and congressmen to civil society groups, to thoroughly analyze and report how far the budget is going.